Thursday, March 20, 2014

Dora Hiers: Tips to Transition from Pantser to Plotter

In September 2012, I resolved to evolve from pantser to plotter. For those of you unfamiliar with the terms:
  • A pantser sits down in front of their laptop and starts typing, with only a few rough ideas for either characters or story floating around in their head.
  • A plotter uses an outline and finds their rhythm by organizing their thoughts prior to any actual writing.
Usually, a writer falls naturally into one category. Trying to do the opposite of what comes natural is like writing left-handed when you normally use your right. Early on, I tried both methods, but plotting frustrated me so much that I considered inflicting serious damage to my laptop.

But as I celebrated with writer friends over their multi-book contracts, I knew that I'd never be able to accomplish this if I couldn't learn to plot. A key component of the proposal is the synopsis. No synopsis=No proposal.

I started my transition by writing two proposals encompassing five books total, which for me, meant writing books from a synopsis instead of the reverse. I’m thrilled to report that I just sent the last completed book to my editor. Woo-hoo!

Want to know how I transitioned from pantser to plotter? I'll share my secrets. :-)

PrayNo explanation necessary.

Characters.  I'm a visual person. I need pictures, so I started by finding my hero/heroine online and getting to know them. Then, I asked my character (whichever one you connect with first) these questions.
  • What do you want? (Goal)
  • Why do you want it? (Motivation)
  • Why can't you have it? (Conflict)
Develop the story idea/premise.  What terrible thing happened in my character's past to make them how they are today? Keep asking "what if?" until you come up with a story idea.

Write a few pages.  Writing backstory helped me flesh out the characters more, so that I could go back and fill in some of the blanks. Just write a bit and let words flow. It's OK. You’ll delete them. The goal is for the story to reveal itself. You may need to tweak the premise after doing this.

Picture the story sequence in your headDo what it takes to find your zone. Close your eyes. Throw in a CD. Let your dog walk you around the park. Record the chapter number, the date, point-of-view, and what you expect to happen in that chapter/scene. If you know how you want the book to end, you can skip down and work backward.

Implement a schedule.  Map out a timeline for the completion of your books. Not only will you be amazed at your progress, but you can plop that completion date right into your proposal.

It’s your turn.
  • If you're a pantser, how do you write proposals?
  • Do you ever see yourself evolving into a plotter? Why or why not?

Journey’s Embrace blurb:

ImageAfter an injury forces Deputy U.S. Marshal Sage Michaelson off duty, he heads to his hometown with two things on his mind: recuperating and reevaluating, but Sage can’t refuse his best friend’s plea to keep a protective eye on his little sister after someone ransacks her house. But Delaney’s not so little anymore—and definitely not the young “Dane” Sage remembers.

Flight Medic Delaney Hunt has loved Sage forever. But, he’s all about control and order while she embraces life and takes risks. As much as the idea appeals to her, she doesn’t need Sage looking over her shoulder. But when things go wrong and she finds herself hanging by her fingertips, who does she call to rescue her?

Will Delaney ever be the woman Sage wants by his side? Can Sage learn to live by grace, recognizing that God is in control? Can they overcome their fears to embrace life together?

Purchase Link

Author Bio:

Dora Hiers is a multi-published author of Heart Racing, God-Gracing romances. She’s a member of RWA, ACFW, and the Treasurer for ACFW-Charlotte Chapter. Connect with her on Seriously Write, her personal blog, Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest.


  1. I plot and pants around it, lol. I also often skip to the end and work backward :)

    1. What fun! I can't even imagine working backwards, Dana! :D

  2. Delia, thank you for the lovely feature on your blog today.
    Congratulations on your beautiful new cover for Goldeneyes. It's a stunner!

    1. My pleasure, Dora! Thank you for such a great post.

      I'm glad you like my new cover for Goldeneyes. I like it too! :)

  3. Great article, Dora. I'm a plotter from way back but I still can't map out a timeline and finish on time! Kinda scary!